Data Doctors: Silverlight 'plug-in' faces uphill fight to catch Adobe - East Valley Tribune: Business

Data Doctors: Silverlight 'plug-in' faces uphill fight to catch Adobe

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Posted: Saturday, September 27, 2008 5:46 pm | Updated: 10:32 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q: What is Silverlight, and do I need it? - Glen

A: The Internet remains the biggest opportunity for companies that are jockeying for your eyeballs, and Silverlight is Microsoft's attempt to gain market share in the enormous Internet multimedia market, sometimes referred to as RIA - Rich Internet Applications.

Q: What is Silverlight, and do I need it? - Glen

A: The Internet remains the biggest opportunity for companies that are jockeying for your eyeballs, and Silverlight is Microsoft's attempt to gain market share in the enormous Internet multimedia market, sometimes referred to as RIA - Rich Internet Applications.

Essentially, Silverlight is a competitor to Adobe's Flash, which currently has an estimated 90 percent market share. Both are Web development platforms.

Most everyone is familiar with Adobe's Flash as the engine that renders the videos at sites like YouTube.com and CNN.com. But it's also the technology used for just about anything visual that has movement or animation.

Microsoft's approach with Silverlight is quite different from Adobe's Flash in that it is more focused on application development (it works directly with the .Net development platform). But at the end of the day, they both want you to use their software to view video and rich media on the Internet.

For Microsoft to get more Web surfers to use the Silverlight viewing software (often referred to as a "plug-in"), they have to persuade more Web site developers to use their development tools for generating multimedia content. In order for more Web site developers to commit to using Silverlight development tools, they want to see more Web surfers that have the Silverlight viewing software installed. So it's a bit of a Catch-22 at the moment.

One of the highest profile partnerships that Microsoft landed for Silverlight was NBC's Olympics Web site, which required the Silverlight software to view the live streams that were available during the games.

Oddly, now that the games are over, all of the archive videos at NBCOlympics.com are encoded using Adobe's Flash. Many are speculating that NBC realized that 40 million U.S. visitors to their Olympics site did not have Silverlight installed yet and that the extra annoyance of having to download the software to view the video was not worth the hassle.

So the real question is, do you need it? The answer to that question is different for everyone reading this. The sites you visit on the Internet will be the biggest factor. Until you go to a Web site that requires the download and you deem the content valuable enough to do so, you don't need to install it.

Many of you may be seeing it as a download during Windows updates, which is another way to get it installed. In general, I am not seeing anything outside the ordinary problems for those who have installed Silverlight. So installing it before you find a need for it shouldn't have an impact on a properly running computer.

Silverlight is in its infancy (Version 2 is currently in Beta testing and available at microsoft.com/silverlight), so Microsoft has a long battle in front of it if the company wants to grab market share from Adobe.

If you happen to be a business and in the market for development tools for Web-based applications, you would do well to evaluate all of the options in the family of development tools offered by Microsoft including Silverlight (www.silverlight.net).

Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the "Computer Corner" radio show, which can be heard at www.datadoctors.com/radio. Readers may send questions to evtrib@datadoctors.com.

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